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Iftin Ahmed Farah, 24

Refugee from Mogadishu, Somalia, now living in Nairobi, Kenya.

I left because of the civil war in Somalia. At the beginning life wasn’t too bad. The government was non-existent but it didn’t seem to matter when I was growing up. I was forced to leave when the fighting intensified and women were being raped. The fighters carried out so many atrocities, sometimes they would tie a person to the back of a car and drag them around the city and at other times they would throw people down wells. But it was rape that I was most afraid of and I left for Kenya in 2006. I couldn’t survive in Kenya, there were too many difficulties, so I returned to Somalia in 2007.

But then fighting broke out in Mogadishu, which was even worse than before, fighting between Al Shabaab and the Ethiopians. Al Shabaab were forcibly conscripting young men and making women marry against their will. At the beginning they had the support of the civilians but this soon disappeared when people saw what they were really like. Things got so bad that I was forced to leave once again, this time with some friends. We took a bus but it was much more difficult than before. We had to move from place to place, hiding all the time. Al Shabaab were trying to prevent anyone leaving the country. Once in Kenya, we still had to hide on the way to Nairobi because we didn’t have any documents.

When I got to Nairobi I lived with a Somali woman whose children had left Kenya. I stayed with her until I met my daughter’s father. He disappeared when I was four months pregnant. I think he left because he didn’t have any money. I have heard different stories, one moment he is in Somalia, then he is in Sudan – I still don’t know where he is. Besides this I have a problem with his relatives. He never told me about his family but I get threatening phone calls from them, saying they will come and take my daughter away. They say their brother should have custody of my daughter.

When my daughter was born I was told she was suffering from hydrocephalus. I’m forced to stay here. I can’t go back to Somalia. If I did, I wouldn’t be able to get medical attention for my daughter. If she was healthy I would go back now and stay with relatives. My wish is for my daughter to be able to walk. I believe God will help me and she will eventually be healthy.